Which village/town in Provence do you find most charming and useful as a home base?
I enjoy Arles. I have stayed there 2x and drove out to the villages as daytrips. There is alot to do in Arles also in eves or market day or just enjoying Arles for it sights, restaurants and strolling. It is a larger town but that doesnot mean it is not a great base w/ nice architecture, views and ambiance.
I've stayed a couple of times in Saignon, a little village just east of Apt (which is itself east of Avignon a ways),at the Auberge du Presbytere. was drawn there by an article about a wedding in the Washington Post probably 10 years ago now. I found it worked well to take the TGV to Avignon, have lunch and see a bit of
Avignon in the afternoon,pick up the rental car and then drive to Apt/Saignon. Apt has a big market, and Saignonis charming but not completely jammed with tourists; easy to get around from there to Bonnieux, Gordes, Roussillon, Loumarin, etc. hmmmmm, thinking of all this makes me want to go back. :)
We have always had a car so we didn't have to rely on public transportation. That is an issue in the small towns of the Luberon. We have stayed in Arles twice. We especially enjoyed the Camargue area. Traffic in Arles and Avignon is more difficult due to parking. We have also stayed in Joucas and Roussillon. Roussillon is more expensive. Both are close to Gordes which is even more expensive. Gordes has a nice market. I would check the RS book on Provence to get the list of markets each day. We like the Bedoin market on Mondays. L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue has markets on two days. Parking is always an issue there due to the canals. If you are going to use self service laundry, we went to Apt and Coustellet. Every village/town has its own charm. Your definition of charm may be different from mine. If I had all the money I needed, I would be in the small Luberon towns in a heartbeat and never leave. Good luck
This past May we spent a week in Provence with Arles as our base, and loved it. We took the train a few times and had a car the last two days. Visited Avignon, Isle sur la Sorgue (spelling?), Aix, St. Remy, and many of the
Luberon hill towns. Liked Arles the best, and do not regret at all having chosen that as our base. Have good time..it will be hard not to, wherever you choose.
Karen - I have stayed in Vaison la Romaine, Arles, Lourmarin, and Carpentras and loved them all.
Hi Karen, We've used Arles as a base for perhaps six trips to Provence. It's very conveniently located. We've stayed in Vaison la Romaine, San Remy and Aix but find Arles to be the best location for day tripping and there's lots to do and see in Arles. We're heading back there on the 20th for five days. Have a great trip. Anne
I see a lot of votes for Arles, and I'll second (or 3rd or 4th) it, especially if you want a city. If you want a village, some good suggestions here too; Saignon, Gordes, Vaison, Isle-sur-la-sourgue. I'd add Bonnieux, but it looks like you have more suggestions than you need.
We based ourselves in St Remy and found it to be a perfect stay. It has restaurants, laundry, grocery market. and a wonderful street market. To explore other areas we stayed in Vaison Romaine and Gigondas. Spent one final night in Avignon to train up to Chamonix. We day tripped to various towns including Arles which was a town We did not love--parking was nearly impossible and it is not a small town-IMO Provence is all about the smaller quaint places.
Arles is in the southwest corner of the area. To get to anywhere, the fastest routes are through Avignon. Our last trip to the area, we stayed in Castillon du Gard in a wonderful place with a view of Pont du Gard. From there we could travel south to the Arles area, up to Avignon and east to the Luberon Hills area, and north to the Cotes du Rhone area. One suggestion, when going through Avignon and east, do not turn east, south of Avignon, go west of town and turn east, north of town.
If you want the quintessential village life look at St. Remy. I have stayed there numerous times and would go back again tomorrow. There is nothing like that beautiful drive down the tree lined road that leads to the town, It has first class restaurants, shopping and the market is incredible. The walk to the hospital where Van Gogh was is the perfect way to start a day. It is centrally located and great home base for day trips. I also have stayed in Arles and while I like it, it's a bit bigger than the kind of place I like to stay for any length of time, and I found the driving and parking in Arles to be a bit of a pain.
Castillon du Gard is a wonderful little village, as someone suggested. And if you don't stay at the hotel with the view of the Pont du Gard, you can just go behind the church in the center of the village and there in front of you will be a view of it.
I stayed in St Remy de Provence for 3 nights and thouroughly enjoyed it. I used public transportation which was more difficult, but the town itself was just fantastic. Don't miss the market day there, just marvelous. I stayed in Vaison la Romaine as part of a RS tour, another great market town. I definately want to return again. The tour included Orange, Gigondas and Arles. The Roman theatre inOrange is outstanding. So many placesmto see, so little time and $$. Have a great trip.
I, like June, spent time in St. Remy (one week) and relied on public transportation. While we wasted a lot time, especially hanging out around the bus terminal in Avignon where most bus transfers occurred, it was a wonderful base. St. Remy is pretty touristy and full of wealthy foreigners, but there are great shops, and the weekly market is outstanding. And it's beautiful, which is probably why so many wealthy foreigners have houses there.
Last year we stayed in Louramin at La Cordiere which is in Rick's Provence book. Lourmarin is about an hour or less driving time from alomost anywhere in Provence. While it is not a place where you will run into lots of Americans, it is a beautiful village. We really liked it and would happily go again.
We have love l'isle sur-la-Sorgue. It is a great home base for Provence. We will be staying there this year for 2 weeks in late September/early October. This is the 3rd year we've stayed in this village. We are also staying in the same house for the 3rd time. It has the most wonderful Sunday market that runs though the whole town. Here is the link to the house: http://www.homeaway.com/vacation-rental/p57584 We also wrote a review of the house.
Too much good advice here. Each time someone adds a new suggested city I think: Great idea. Like Isle-sur-la-sourgue. One of the best markets in France.
Another vote for Arles. We spent 5 nights at Hotel du Musee last October, an excellent hotel choice for us. Our ground floor room was adjacent to the lovely courtyard, the staff was very helpful, and we enjoyed our stay in Arles.